Clayton continues his winning streak, says goodbye to a great partner — and admits to a second career

By: Horse Deals

Clayton continues his winning streak, says goodbye to a great partner — and admits to a second career
For 13 years, Clayton has been singing with a band

It’s always great when a new venue makes its mark for all the right reasons. I’ve just got back from Lignieres in France, where I won the CIC** with Bendigo — and while taking the top step on the podium put the seal on things, the event stood out because of the work that had gone into it.

It was only the second time it had been held and last year there were a few issues with the going. This year, it was near perfect; the organisers had spread a mix of sand and wood chip round the whole of the cross-country track, and then seeded it so the grass grew through it. The water tankers were out when we arrived and they continued watering it through the night.

Bendigo was absolutely superb, a real joy to ride, and finished on his dressage score of 42.4. What makes it doubly satisfying is that he belongs to Edwin and Peta McAuley, who owned Nullabor, and was bought after Nullabor died in a freak fall. Bendigo’s only 10 and although you have to keep your fingers crossed, I think he’s got a great future.

My plans were to go to Boekelo with Mr Miller, but just before we were due to leave, he was sold to a lady rider who will compete him at one- and two-star level. I’ve got to admit to mixed feelings — he came to me to be produced and sold, but I’d got a great partnership going with him.

I wish his new rider the best of luck, but I will miss Mr Miller. He’s a superb jumper and has all his wits about him, in a nice way. I’m quite confident that if I’d been able to keep him, he’d have gone to four-star level.

I went to Boekelo and had a great time, but with a different hat on. For the past 13 years, I’ve been a vocalist with a band called Snatch and we went out to entertain the troops. It all started when Lucinda went into a music shop to buy me some guitar lessons for a birthday present and got talking to a couple of guys who said they were auditioning for a vocalist.

She told them I was their man and put me down to audition. I went along and did my stuff.
"You’ve got the job, mate," they said and the rest is musical history — or something!
Lucinda and I now need to find some more advanced rides. If any Horse Deals readers fancy being owners, get in touch! People often think that we don’t need any more horses, but things happen, as with Mr Miller. We also get sent a lot of horses to be produced and sold and produce a lot from scratch, so it would be good to find a few more "up and going" rides.

I’ve sometimes had horses sent to me that are competing at a good level, but struggling with their dressage and we’ve had a good success rate at sorting them out. Maybe it’s because we always try to get to the bottom of why horses aren’t going, or behaving as they could.

A lot of the time, it comes down to designing a programme to suit the individual horse. Because we have so many through our hands, there’s rarely a situation we haven’t seen before. Also, we take a holistic approach to getting horses to perform and have a great team of staff, vets, physios and so on. We’ll also use approaches such as acupuncture, if appropriate.

Sometimes, horses come with tiny problems other people have missed.
Event horses are like all athletes: they do a hard job, which means you have to put a lot into their dressage, jump training and fitness. You can’t rely on just trotting up a hill every day!

Not every horse can go in exactly the same way and you have to be flexible in the way you train. Often, you have to go back and establish the basics, and then it comes down to giving them the right amount of work and putting them into a routine that suits them.

You also have to give them time. While you can often assess horses fairly quickly, results don’t happen overnight. We might be able to get them going quicker than many people, but as the saying goes — the impossible we can do at once, miracles take a little longer!